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  • Saurabh Garg

Frugal Innovation in times of global crisis.

Innovation has always been thought as something for the elitist. However if you look at history of mankind, and particularly at the regions of Central Asia, South East Asia and Africa, these place have given more innovative solutions to the problems of humankind than the rest of the developed world together. If ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, then ‘adversity is the mother of innovation’.


Water Bottle, made of Gourd found in SE Asia.

Frugal Innovation is the safest bet we can make towards growing ingenuity and novelty of an organisation (or Nation). As compared to the more strict and rigid structures and frameworks like 6sigma, Design Thinking offers a fast, natural and intuitive way to incorporate frugal innovation within an organisation, making sure that the changes are scalable, sustainable and flexible towards any change in the ecosystem.


Frugal innovation is all about doing more with less and specially in times of crisis (such as high competitive market, economic slow down, pandemic, global melt down) it is important for global leaders and giants to learn from the simple ways of the developing nations where people are always struggling to optimise the limited available resources at there disposal. These learnings can help developed worlds to leverage the spontaneity and simplicity of the method to improve and grow their own offerings while making sure that the marginally unserved are being taken care of. Frugal innovation also offers the way to be sustainable using locally available resources.


Though, frugal innovation is scattered and messy process, but that in itself enables us to be quick in responding and eventually breaking the imaginary barriers defined by so called social, political, religious, business, engineering mindsets. Frugal innovation ensures that it empowers everyone, specially the ones who are at the bottom of the pyramid through flattening of hierarchy and acquiring a more flat structure where every voice is heard.

The core of frugal innovation lies in ingenue immersion and engagement with the user, context and the system - all at the same time. Its strength comes from the very fact that we humans must be empathic, passionate and intuitive in our approach of innovation.



Further readings and references:

Book : Frugal Innovation by Navi and Jaipeed

Book : Frugal Innovation models, means & methods by Cambridge publications

TED talk The genius of frugal innovation

Training & Workshop : Why Design Thinking should be at the core of your bussiness, by Crossed Design

Training & Workshop : Adobe Design Mix

Publication : Marco Zeschky, Bastian Widenmayer & Oliver Gassmann (2011) Frugal Innovation in Emerging Markets, Research-Technology Management, 54:4, 38-45, DOI: 10.5437/08956308X5404007

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